The Showroom

Communal Knowledge

Communal Knowledge is a programme of collaborative projects where artists and designers are invited to work with community groups, organisations, schools and individuals from The Showroom’s neighbourhood.

Set up in 2010 and led by Louise Shelley our Collaborative Projects Curator, Communal Knowledge has responded to numerous local, social and political shifts. Through conversations around shared interests and concerns, projects aim to generate playful and experimental avenues for critical reflection on issues at stake locally.

The Church Street area, NW8, is bordered by the Edgware Road, Regent's Canal, Lisson Grove and the Westway, and is known for its distinctive and diverse communities from across the Middle East and Africa. Culturally and community rich, the neighbourhood also has the fourth lowest median household income of all the wards in London and 50 per cent of children live below the poverty line.

Much of the emphasis is on finding ways to re-think or ‘unlearn’ established norms, values, codes, roles and relations, to create visibility, and to produce an alternative body of knowledge gained through communal activity and experience. Projects can take the form of commissions which develop through a year-long series of workshops and research, culminating in a presentation or event in the gallery space; or they can function as long-term collaborations, some of which are off-site, embedded within the local community.

Our approach is unique in the way in which we build strong relationships through projects developed over the long-term, and in how we regard each and every person involved in them as a collaborator. Trust and a conscious awareness of process and the impact a project can have beyond its existence, are key to our way of working. Some groups and individuals are now starting to get involved in projects within our broader programme, or in some cases are taking on a more proactive role within artistic productions.

Communal Knowledge Summer Programme 2017

Over the summer months the many artists, researchers, school students, educators, neighbours, community activists and local groups that make up The Showroom’s Communal Knowledge programme have occupied the gallery for workshops, meetings and events to continue their collaborative work.

Images from some of the events and workshops include Fiona Jack's Using our hands or Organise, whose week long period of workshops culminated in an open studio event; the Penfold Street Fete; and medicinal garden workshops with Jeanne-Lyse Sibaud.

For more information or to get involved please contact Louise Shelley or phone 020 7724 4300.

Local groups and organisations

Ada Court
Church Street Neighbourhood Management
City of Westminster College
Fourth Feathers
Independent Workers of Great Britain
Justice for Domestic Workers
King Solomon Academy
Marylebone Bangladesh Society
Marylebone Project
Penfold Community Hub at 60 Penfold Street
Portman Early Childhood Centre
Pursuing Independent Pathways [PIP]
Quintin Kynaston School
The Cockpit Theatre
The Migrants Resource Centre
The Prince's Trust
The Seymour Homeless Art Collective
Westminster Adult Education services

Communal Knowledge is generously supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s Charity, John Lyon’s Charity, and Garfield Weston Foundation.


  1. Fiona
    Event Fiona Jack: Using our hands to Organise

  2. Participation-1
    Text Annette Krauss: [In]visible Spaces of Equality

  3. Lah_exhibit_2012_image_1
    Text Lawrence Abu Hamdan: Aural Contract: The Freedom of Speech Itself

  4. Ps
    Video New film looking at The Showroom's local work

  5. Screen_shot_2016-06-09_at_15.17.12
    Exhibition Communal Knowledge at Work

  6. Showroom_-_uriel_tincture-ointment_workshop_dan_weill_photography-154
    Event Putting the Medicinal Garden to Use

  7. Showroom-medicinal_garden-uriel_dan_weill_photography-58
    Event Medicinal garden launch and tour with Uriel Orlow and Michael Heinrich

  8. Wwy_flyer_front_small
    Event People Make Videos Open Workshop

  9. Pmv_cover
    Text People Make Videos, a manual for making community videos

  10. 01_take_over_the_showroom
    Event Take Over | Fourth Feathers TV: Gallery as a neighbourhood model

  11. Now_showing
    Event Cinenova: Now Showing

  12. Now_showing
    Event Cinenova: Now Showing

  13. 02031
    Event Open discussion with Hengameh Golestan, Azadeh Fatehrad, The Showroom and Justice for Domestic Workers

  14. Hg1
    Exhibition Hengameh Golestan: Witness 1979

  15. 02032
    Event Reading Group with Azadeh Fatehrad and Louise Shelley

  16. 02030
    Event Symposium: When does a Revolution Start? Part II

  17. Hiddenfaces
    Event Screening: Hidden Faces by Kim Longinotto

  18. 02030
    Event Symposium: When does a Revolution Start? Part I

  19. 01894
    Event People Make Videos: A week of meetings, video making and screenings

  20. 02011
    Event Schooling & Culture

  21. 01971
    Event What would you make a film about? A video conversation between The Showroom and its neighbours

  22. Rsz_h500_5_12
    Event Cinenova: Now Showing

  23. Now_showing
    Event Cinenova: Now Showing

  24. 01945
    Event Justice for Domestic Workers: 6th Anniversary event

  25. 01907
    Event Christian Nyampeta: Church Street Library, How to live together, A Blackboard

  26. 01902
    Event Music Video Launch: Conspiracy by Owlboy

  27. Dhp
    Event Patrick Staff, Scaffold See Scaffold

  28. W10cn_exhibit_2014_image_5
    Exhibition Werker 10: Community Darkroom and Christian Nyampeta: How to Live Together – Prototypes

  29. W10cn_exhibit_2014_image_4
    Event The Showroom Reading Group 2014

  30. 01847
    Event Communal Knowledge: is this working?